Monday, July 26, 2010

Our First Harvest of Watermelon


Actually this photo was taken about a week ago. The first watermelon from dad's veggie garden. Compared to the luncheon mat underneath, I guess you can tell the size of it. Yep, pretty big-- too big for the fridge in our kitchen. So as we always do, we cut the watermelon into slices and cut off all green parts so that all we have left was flat slabs of edible parts only. Then we put them into big tupperwares, as flat as possible, to fit them into any room left in the fridge. ;P And I gave the rest to my friends.

Seems like we are going to have fewer but sweeter watermelons than last year.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hometown Fair

Takoyaki -- My favorite fair junk food!

This festive event is held at a local fishing port in mid July every year and features boat paddling race, outdoor amateur singing contest and fireworks at night. This year, someone in the same workplace (but different department) participated in the singing contest, and I was there as a member of the "cheering squad" :P with my colleagues.

I was quite surprised to see this many food stands at this festival. I heard that food vendors from big cities used to be reluctant to come this far, because often there are not enough visitors to make up for the big gas expense. But now it's changing... I hope.

Nagashi somen is a traditional and fun way of eating somen noodles outdoor. I guess you need to be good at using chopsticks to catch the noodles that try to swim away. To make it festive, they made the bamboo "water slider" laughably long. It was funny to see the participants, with a bowl of broth and chopsticks in hand, anxiously waiting for the noodles to come.

I didn't go to the fireworks, but it was on the local TV news this morning. Looks like many young people in yukata came from other towns to make a decent crowd. Good!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Colorful Souvenir

These are from a confectionery shop, not in my hometown but a bigger city where I change buses on my way back from Osaka.

They look so cute, but were terribly sweet -- at least, to me. Well, not all of them, but the chocolate one was.

Which photo do you like the best?

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Ume Juice, Again

Obachan's ume plum juice 2010 version (Photo taken on Jun 29)

Forgive me for posting about this juice this late -- in July! Maybe some of you were planning to give it a try this year? But ume plum season is over now and I don't think anyone in Japan can find green, unripe ume plum at the store any more. Well, I could be wrong. I don't know about northern part of Japan like Hokkaido island...

Anyway, let me post this recipe for future reference. This is not a translation of any particular recipe -- it is more like a summary of several similar Japanese recipes.

1 kg green, unripe ume plums
1 kg sugar

Wash and pat dry ume. Using a toothpick or something, remove the scab-like thing remaining at where the stem end was. Put the plums in a plastic bag and freeze for more than 24 hours. Place the frozen ume and sugar alternately in a jar. Close the lid and keep in a cool, dark place. Juice will start to come out in a few days and sugar will melt. Eventually it will be like thick syrup. It should be ready when the sugar is completely melt -- in about 10 days. Strain the syrup with a strainer lined with a paper towel or cheesecloth into another container. ** Refrigerate. To make a drink, thin the ume-flavored syrup with water. Adjust the amount of water depending on how strong you want the drink to be. Serve cold.

** My family usually skips this step so I didn't mention it before, but, according to some websites, the syrup will keep longer if you boil it. You could strain it back into the same jar and place it in a big pot with boiling water for about 10 minutes. Cool and refrigerate.

This site has good photos showing the procedure.

I used crystal sugar as in the top photo, but if you live in a warm region, maybe regular sugar is safer, because it melts faster with less risk of alcoholic fermentation occurring in the jar.



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